What a life.
I have been on vacation for the last few days and have really taken the time to find my peace.
Before I left, I was covering for one of my therapists while she was away visiting her family.
I worked a lot and slept a little. In the end, I am thrilled she got to spend time with her family and I am thrilled it is over.
I have to confess that I was neglecting my body over those days and believe me, I paid for it.
The lack of sleep and exercise really affected my body.
I got headaches, muscle tension, acid reflux, shortness of breath and joint pains does that sound like anyone else out there?
Amazing how neglecting the body causes so much grief!
We all know that we don't always take the best care of our bodies.
We justify it by saying we don't have time.
We explain how busy our days are and how important our jobs are and the how we just can't miss the TV show we simply "must" watch.
Some of us find other excuses, like we hurt too much or are simply too tired to exercise.
There are others who use the excuse about money and how they can't afford to eat properly or buy exercise equipment or a membership at your neighbourhood Wellness Center.
Don't worry, I am not trying to add guilt to the list of problems we have.
In fact, I believe that the excuses are part of the healing that must go on, provided that we recognize them for what they really are: a call for help.
A lot of people come to me seeking my help.
They know they need some help but they just aren't sure what kind.
Often these individuals are surprised to hear how simple it can be to feel better again.
We treat a lot of people whose excuses dry up as they get better and better.
They find it easier to do what makes them feel good instead of doing things that make them feel bad.
The way to wellness is, to me, a perspective shift.
This comes from within, a desire to feel better.
This call from within is critical to lasting success.
I have a new experience I would like to share with you and hopefully it will help you find wellness.
I realized something that truly encompasses the body, mind and soul.
It has helped me more than I can even begin to explain.
For whatever reason, knowing something in our minds is not as important as feeling it in our souls.
Until that call from within happens, the knowledge may or may not help us.
True lasting change must start from the inside.
During this vacation, I have felt that call from within. I really understand, for the first time, that in every situation "God is there and everything is OK." This is something a lot of us know in our heads, but it changes completely when you feel it from within.
The realization goes even deeper.
I realized that not only is God here and everything is OK, but also the thing that is in the forefront of my life is the very thing I asked for in my prayers.
The thing that I am noticing in of my present situation is a precious gift from God.
How do you handle a gift you really, really want?
How would you handle it if it was not only what you wanted, but it came directly from God?
When I stopped to consider that, I realized that not only is it a gift but it is also the very thing I asked for.
Let me explain what I mean.
First of all, I do not think that we are specifically asking for exactly what happens to us and around us.
When we want something, like good health, financial abundance, good relationships or whatever else, we are given exactly what we need to have this experience in our life.
Let me give you an example. I told you about a patient of mine who prayed every day for God to help her.
She prayed for God to send someone or something to help her.
She was tired of the pain, the physical and emotional pain.
Then a few minutes later she told me about how her husband and her kids were always trying to help her and how she felt like she was a burden.
The irony was too much for me.
She had asked for help. She had help all around her, yet she rejected the gift and decided it meant she was a burden.
She had in her mind some kind of experience different from the one she was given, but the fact is, she got exactly what she asked for.
I have a friend who told me one time that he woke up every morning in pain and dreaded putting his feet onto the ground because he just knew that he would hurt. I suggested at the time that he consider the pain a gift and take a new perspective that:
He could not know for sure his feet would hurt every day.
If they hurt, then his pain was just a reminder to stay present in the moment he was in.
Maybe his feet were not "painful," but instead they were tight or achy. The body remembers what pain means so if we "think" pain then we feel pain.
I now have a new one for him.
Maybe his pain is exactly what he needs to remember the gift he has in his life.
The pain stops him every morning, giving him the time to reflect on how fortunate he is and the blessings he has in his life.
This same friend developed back pain for the first time in his life.
Now every time he wants to complain about how his feet hurt he has a reference for what real pain can feel like.
Maybe now he can look from a different perspective at his feet. He asked for help, he got help in the form of back pain.
Not exactly what he asked for, but exactly what he needed.
He did not specifically ask for back pain, but in his desire to feel better when he woke up, he gained a new perspective.
He now can appreciate how good his feet feel, compared to how bad his back felt.
Our perspective is what guides our decisions after all.
The key is in how we look at the world.
The things in our life that stand out are the most precious gifts we can have.
They are our very prayers being answered.
We used to call them bad, thinking that we shouldn't have them in our lives, but when we stop and consider that they are gifts, we can treat the events in our forefront differently.
Over the last several days when I was getting frustrated with my kids if they were yelling and being kids I remembered that:
God is with me and everything is OK.
The event in my foreground is a precious gift, a prayer being answered.
I take a minute now and say thanks and then see the event differently.
The same thing happened to me physically last week.
My body was burned out.
I was exhausted and so I felt awful.
The worse I felt, the more I longed to feel well again.
Then it dawned on me that the lousy feeling I had, all over, was just another prayer being answered.
My body is so smart that it showed me in no uncertain terms how fortunate I am to have the health I have.
This I experienced from the inside.
I truly appreciate my body.
Does this mean I have no aches and pains?
No, I wake up with this body reminding me it is still working just fine; I feel every part of my body.
Over the last week I have a call from within to give thanks and feel my body, I give it a few minutes of my attention each morning before I get out of bed.
The answers are all there for us.
It's just that sometimes we have a distorted perspective.
This distortion happens so that we can remember the truth that is all around us.
When there is something we perceive as a negative thing, it is merely a gift brought to our forefront so we can re-look at our perspective.
People come to the Wellness Center in distress and comment routinely about how nice my staff is.
This contrasts with being around not so nice people (and this includes when we are not nice to ourselves) and helps them to see the truth that is all around us, that there are nice people everywhere.
If we see what is wrong all the time, it is only because our perspective is focused in one direction.
All we need to do is take a new look at the same situation in a different perspective.
To do this we have to practice.
Fortunately, our lives give us lots of chances to practice.
Every situation in the forefront of our attention is a gift to remind us to take a look at where we are.
If we have lost our peace, finding it is the priority.
At work I talk about how important it is to consider everyone who walks through the door as someone who may be in distress and our job is simply to make sure we do not add to that stress.
We cannot please everyone, but as I said in my last article, I get to reach out and offer help as often as I want and am able. It helps me as much as the person I am reaching out to.
I was talking to a staff member at the beginning of the summer about keeping our peace, including out in public.
If someone cuts you off in the parking lot, you feel the anger inside.
Listen to the things you tell yourself about what a jerk that person is.
Notice how you feel and what you are thinking.
If you find out that that person who just cut you off recently found out sad news about a loved one, now you realize that their abrupt driving was because their mind was on something else and you consider that you might also drive abruptly.
Your new perspective allows you to find peace quickly and your heart opens immediately.
It also reminds you that how you drive may or may not add stress to a stressful situation.
Now try this: See if the next time someone cuts you off you can thank God for giving you the most precious gift of reminding you that you have an open heart and that this event is just a simple reminder to you to find your peace and give others the benefit of the doubt by not adding more stress to their lives.
We all have events that come to us that we consider stressful. It could be our physical body with pain or too much weight, or our relationships to ourselves and others around us.
See if you can take a new perspective on things and realize the event that stands out is a precious gift.
How do you treat a special gift?
With appreciation and thanks.
Take the events that stand out in your life and realize that they are there to remind us that "God is here and everything is OK."
Wellness is about connecting the physical, mental/emotional and spiritual.
The events in our forefront remind us to stop a minute and check our perspective.
From this day on see how many times in your day you are reminded that health and wellness are more important to you than anger, frustration, depression, guilt and regret.
Start by starting to notice.
See if you can interpret a situation just a bit differently.
See if you can look at things from a broader perspective.
Life is filled with lessons. Those who study life do the best on the exam, which we call our life.
To all who read my article, my sincere thanks. I appreciate the kind words more than I am able to express. I would love to help you in any way I can. Stop by and see me and I will do my best.
Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org.